Mongrel complex

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"Mongrel complex" (Portuguese: complexo de vira-lata) is an expression used to refer to a collective inferiority complex felt by Brazilian people in comparison to Europe or the United States. The reference to a "mongrel" (as opposed to "pure-bred") carries negative connotations attributed to most Brazilians being racially mixed as well as a perception of lacking cultural refinement.


It was originally coined by novelist and writer Nelson Rodrigues, in which originally he referred to the trauma suffered by Brazilians in 1950 when the national football team was defeated by Uruguay's national team in the last match of the 1950 World Cup, which was held at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. The estimated 200,000 spectators at the stadium that day were stunned into an eerie silence after the match was concluded, some so apparently distraught they committed suicide by jumping out of the stands. Brazil would recover in 1958 when it won the World Cup for the first of five times,[1] but the idea persisted afterwards, cropping up again the next time Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014 when it was defeated in the semifinal match against Germany by a score of 7-1.

For Rodrigues, the phenomenon was not exclusively related to sport. According to him:[2]

The expression "mongrel complex" was rediscovered in 2004 by American journalist Larry Rohter. In an article for The New York Times about the Brazilian nuclear program, he wrote:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A pátria em chuteiras de Nélson Rodrigues por Fernando Bandini. Em Com Ciência – SBPC/Labjor. Visited in 16 November 2007.
  2. ^ Humberto Mariotti. "O Complexo de Inferioridade do Brasileiro". Instituto de Pesquisa BSP. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 4 January 2014.
  3. ^ If Brazil Wants to Scare the World, It's Succeeding". The New York Times. Visited in 16-11-2007.